Inclusion has been identified as a key component of successful approaches to organisational diversity management. To date, the inclusion literature has predominantly used quantitative methodology to study visible forms of diversity such as gender and ethnicity. Invisible forms of diversity, such as sexual orientation diversity, have received limited research attention, despite Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) employees facing significantly higher rates of bullying and discrimination in the workplace than their heterosexual colleagues. The current study uses semi-structured interviews and template analysis to investigate LGB employees’ experiences of workplace inclusion within a UK public sector organisation. Findings demonstrate that LGBs share many experiences of exclusion with other minority groups; however, they are not often regarded as exclusionary or the result of one’s sexual orientation. Such experiences appear to be either overlooked due to membership of other minority groups which hold greater significance, or downplayed due to membership of other majority groups. The main implication of this finding is that quantitative measures of inclusion may not reveal the severity of exclusion in organisations. It is therefore recommended that future research investigating employees’ perceptions of inclusion should consider the validity of findings in relation to inclusion based on invisible characteristics. Finally, the findings detailed in this report lend support for the use of an intersectional research approach, which considers the way in which minority statuses are interconnected and cannot be examined in isolation when investigating individuals’ experiences.


sexual orientation, sexual minorities, LGB, diversity, inclusion, qualitative, semi-structured interviews

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Ashley Williams Ashley is a Business Psychologist with a BSc in Psychology from Newcastle University, an MSc in Occupational and Organisational Psychology from Northumbria University, and a PhD from The University of Manchester. Ashley’s PhD focused on the impact of stereotypes on career experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals. Ashley works as a Psychologist at Pearn Kandola, and though her expertise lies within LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion, she is passionate about promoting intersectional diversity and inclusion initiatives within organisations. Please direct correspondence to awilliams@pearnkandola.com.

Neill Thompson is a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University. His research centres on workplace behaviour and social interactions, which include workplace bullying and undermining, humour, the experience of stress, and specific organisational practices such as job interviews, investigations, and team meetings.

Professor Binna Kandola OBE is particularly interested in the study of gender bias and unconscious bias in organisations. He is the author of three critically acclaimed books on these subjects – The Invention of Difference: The Story of Gender Bias at Work, The Value of Difference: Eliminating Bias in Organisations, and Racism at Work: The Danger of Indifference. His most recent book, Free to Soar: Race & Wellbeing in Organisations, which he edited, explores the relationship between race and wellbeing in the workplace. He is also the co-author of several other management books. One of which, Managing the Mosaic, won a Special Commendation at the 1994 Management Book of the Year Awards. Binna was the first Chair of the Standing Committee for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a member of Sir Robin Butler's Panel of Enquiry into Equal Opportunities in the Senior Civil Service. He has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of the BPS, and in 2002 was elected as Chair of the Division of Occupational Psychology. Additionally, in January 2004, Binna was invited to join the UK Government's National Employment Panel and appointed Chair of the Minority Ethnic Group. He is currently a visiting Professor at Leeds University Business School and at Aston University Business School. In 2012 the University of Aston awarded him an Honorary DSc. Binna was awarded an OBE in 2008 for his services to Disadvantaged People and Diversity and he is also on the Asian Power List 2020.

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